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Tag Archives: Design

Possible UFC?

UFC conceptSure helps my backlight problem


Front panel prototypinghmmm….

A little time this weekend refining measurements and testing front panel configurations.

Front panel layoutFinal dimensions. Layout…maybe not

Ready to buy some materials for the shroud and hood.

We worked in the shop a bit today, trying to see what capabilities an injured posterior cruciate ligament might have. Turns out, not so great, but not completely terrible.

Most of what we did was inventory work to be done, the end game being a new project schedule.

Project Schedule 08/06/2013This should take us through any knee therapy

After building the front panel and shroud, more and more of the project time will be spent on software. Difficult at this time to tell what that total loading might look like.

FWIW, the schedule is now in spreadsheet and being backed up everyday.

Another sketchHmmm….

We are seriously close to finishing the 2nd big milestone of the project. The 1st big step was transistioning from design to build. This evolution, when complete, will have the project usuable and in the computer room.

We have a miscellany of parts on order right now, cooling fans, IEC plugs, power supply, and USB hubs. Some materials, like the rubber mat, are here but waiting for the appropriate step in the assembly. Overall, the goal would be to have the side covers in place, the joystick/throttle snugged in, and the seat bolted down; everything ready to hook to the computers. The front panel and the switch sub-assemblies will take a little longer but the basic structure can be put to use.

While we are waiting for the parts, we are doing what we can.

Painting screws and trimPainting up some trim and screws

And, of course, we’ve been prototyping for the next project phase.

One very, very significant part of the design has just now started to come into focus. We’ve made a lot of sketches for the front panel, done some CAD mockups, even built some prototypes. In fact, we’ve used up more materials prototyping a front panel than it will take to build the final result. But we just weren’t getting the correct aesthetic and ergonomics.

So we when back to the planes we love, the Hornet, the Bronco, and the PC-21 for inspiration and refinement.

Main panel prototypePretty close to final layout

This is not all of the instrumentation that will be on the front panel, but it is the larger, most signficant elements.

Prototyping again…

Audio select panel prototypeAudio selection panel

Not much sim or project time this weekend. Stole a few minutes on Friday night and a couple of hours today. Built a prototype for mounting and testing the Bodnar controllers.

Switch panel prototypeSwitch panel protoype

Switch panel prototype detailSwitch panel under the covers

Today, we worked on the side console covers. A lot of precise fitting and cutting.

Left console side in progressLeft side console cover

Our original concept for this project was a side control stick style. The ergonomics of side stick configuration made a lot of sense. With the purchase of the Thrustmaster HOTAS, we had to re-evaluate.

The primary design challenge was how to center mount the stick. We looked at several possibilities, including crafting something from PVC pipe.

Control ColumnSeems like a long time ago

When we started making more detailed measurements based on the Thrustmaster joystick, it became obvious that this design would not work. We found some designs online that involved extending the stick body, and other designs that involved metal work. All these looked good and probably worked well, but did not match our aesthetic or skills.

Fortunately, we were introduced to the Pilatus PC-21. The Pilatus designers solved the problem of a short throw, center stick by building out a small center console. This looked great to us and could be build with our skills.

Center console frontFrom the front

Center console backFrom the back

Center console rightFrom the right side

The open end of the console will be hidden under the main panel.

We could probably make an entire post with nothing but information/commentary on joystick ergonomics.

Flight simulation is computationally very intense. There are two, most fundamental, architectures to handle computionally intense data processing. The first, and more intuitive, paradigm is make a very fast computer with lots of very fast resources. The second, less intutive, but much more successful, method is to tie together multiple less powerful computers in parallel. We say “successful” because this is the architecture used for ALL supercomputers and mainframes.

Our simulator design, as of today, uses 2 connected computers to share data between computationally separate processes (parallelized). This is a fancy way of saying we have a lot of cheap, less powerful computers laying around.

The main computer is the more powerful, running the core simulation software and add-on software that is best run on the same hardware as the simulation software. Let’s call this computer the “FSX” or “YAGI” computer. The second computer is significantly less powerful but runs several peripheral processes that read data from and feed data to the simulation software. Let’s call this the “AUX” or “GOSEI” computer. It is very likely in the future we will have “AUX2” and other computers.

We have separated the total computational workload of running the simulator between the FSX and AUX computers to insure that the visual, graphic simulation (running on FSX) is as smooth and realistic as possible. The AUX computer handles graphic tasks related to mapping, information display, and handles networking to internet resources.

One of the design challenges that continues to drive flight simulation enthusiasts to computing paradigm 1, the single “big bad” computer, is combining audio data output from several pieces of software (running simultaneously) into a single, easily managed data stream. When all of the processes are running on one computer, the data output from all the disparate software elements is automatically combined in one output stream. Add to this design problem, the need to deliver audio input data to 2 or more of these softwares…

Early on, we sketched a functional diagram of how this might be accomplished in a parallelized computing paradigm.


Including some notes about the individual software elements

We are pretty good with the computer stuff. Maybe one day, even become passable as a flightsim pilot. But, no how, do we have any experience, expertise, or knowledge about audio switching. It took a long time and several ignorance exposing conversations with way more knowledgable friends and family before we could even figure how to spec such a thing.

The net result of that part of the project timeline was purchase of these 2 pieces of equipment:

MK3 Computer Microphone Switch

The only one I found, make note of the company

Rolls MX-28

Microphone monitor mixer for live musical bands

Step 2 of this tango was to get all the physical connections consistent with the computer hardware.

ICS subsystems

Professionally prepared by a local audio technician

Although not very pretty, and still far from the final form, at this point, we can legitimately call it a functioning ICS (InterCom System).

All the internet connection, VOIP, and online ATC interfaces are running on the AUX computer. Our unwillingness to install non-simulation software on the FSX computer has made the ICS a critical path element for our plan to fly collaboratively on the internet with other flightsim pilots.

We are still sketching final designs of the ICS subpanel. Likely, it will be the first subpanel in the simulator frame. Here is one possible layout:


Probably on the left side console toward the rear